Literature Study Guide: Speeches

Why Speeches Are Important and What Makes for a GREAT One — that’s what your teen will learn with Literature Study Guide: Speeches!

Are speeches literature?

We cannot necessarily count words spoken to a group of people as literature. But a speech is a formal message that the speaker often writes, edits, and perfects ahead of time. Perhaps the speaker wrote the speech completely before giving it. Or perhaps someone else captured it after the fact (via audio or video recording). Either way, once a written transcription exists, we can, indeed, count a speech as literature.

Now, students analyze speeches for the same reasons we analyze other works of literature. So, we analyze in order to notice the excellent qualities of a piece of writing. As aspiring writers, we study to learn, by observation, ways to improve our own writing.

What’s actually in Literature Study Guide: Speeches?

We have included the ten speeches for analysis IN THIS STUDY GUIDE, so you will not need to find the reading material anywhere else. Six speeches are in the public domain, and we included them in this guide in their entirety. Five contemporary speeches are recommended listening via YouTube. Because they are TEDTalks, they include a written transcript for students to refer to as they listen to the speech. After listening, students complete their worksheets in response.

Students will:

  • learn about important literary devices in speeches
  • and learn about rhetorical elements and their power over an audience
  • plus complete a Critical Analysis of a Speech Worksheet for each speech studied
  • and finally rate the effectiveness of the speech according to rhetorical elements employed

Students may complete this guide in 1 – 3 weeks, depending on their current workload. Alternatively, you might also opt to use the guide in small chunks each year, incorporating 3 or 4 speeches into your student’s syllabus alongside other literature work.

Note:  This study guide has no answer key. Completing the worksheet when it is assigned, plus evidence of a thoughtful set of answers earns a student 100% for each speech.

Literature Study Guide: Speeches is appropriate for use in any of the four years of high school – 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.

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Click here to view an excerpt from Literature Study Guide:  Speeches.

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